GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION

by K Cheryl Mwanza| Episode #3

Ngoni Mare paced to and fro unable to settle himself. He checked his watch for what was the fifth time in ten minutes, then felt his stomach become hollow. The door to the Conference room, at the Harare police station, opened and Ngoni immediately turned.

It was Detective Chief Inspector Tanaka Dube and she had with her a file in one hand.

“Detective, I know things are not looking good for my wife, but she is a good person”

“I never said otherwise. Please, Mr. Mare, take a seat.” Dube said as she sat on the other side of the table.

“My daughters were asking for their mother all night. Detective, do you have kids of your own?”

“I do. A young daughter. Chanel.” She said as she opened the file. “Mr. Mare, your wife is not guilty neither she is being charged with anything-“

“She was here all night for crying out LOUD!” He banged the table as he jumped up. “How do you explain that, detective? My wife was doing her job and she ends up spending a night in a holding cell.”

“Sit down!” Dube said with a finality that seemed to calm Ngoni down. Ngoni took back his seat and gathered his hands before the table. Dube slid a letter inside a plastic bag tagged ‘evidence’ toward Ngoni who too it, scanned it then drew it to his eyes.

“Where did you get this?”

“From your wife’s editor. Allegedly, your wife received that three nights ago.’ Anonymously’”

“Let me get this straight. You are holding my wife because someone wrote a letter and mailed it to her? For all we know whoever wrote this is just seeking attention.”

“We thought so when Cynthia and Nashe first came to us. But then we found the body of the woman in question-“

“You found a body? Wait, you mean this is based on a true story?”

“We are taking it as a confession. The killer felt comfortable enough to write part of a confession to your wife. Your wife has already lawyered up and apparently won’t talk to us.”

“Can I study this letter a little bit? You know, with a little help.” He looked away from the letter then said, “I am a literature teacher, and I believe you are taking this at face value and might be missing information that will be of major importance to the case.” He then added, “My wife doesn’t really talk to me about her job. She had a tendency of making decisions that border on stupidity and she knows that I won’t go along with most of the decisions she makes.”

Dube looked at Mare then said, “You want me to give you a piece of evidence?”

“I want to help in any way that I can. My wife just spent the night in your cell and I’m sure she wasn’t there because she was a witness. After all, I know Cynthia and unless she feels threatened she doesn’t act irrationally.”

“Irrationally?”

“We have two kids, and are renting a three roomed house in Kuwadzana extension. We can’t afford to hire a lawyer, detective.”

“Two days. Two days, and the letter comes back. Do we have an agreement?”

“Yes ma’am. About my wife-“

“We have no reason to hold your wife as of now, so you can leave with her.”

Ngoni got out first and Dube followed afterwards. She found Nashe waiting for her in the hallway and as soon as they locked eyes, Nashe began walking toward her. Nashe exchanged pleasantries with Ngoni and by the time she got to Dube her smile had all but dissolved.

“Can I talk to your, detective?”

“What happened to your lawyer?”

“I never, like, actually asked for one. We, like, were being accused of murder and I can see why Cynthia would think we needed, like, a lawyer.” She crossed her hands over her chest then added, “But a woman was killed, and like, I want to do everything to assist in the capture of her killer. So, like, I’m ready to answer any questions you have.”

“Come this way.”

“Can Qiniso be there? We ended, like, badly yesterday. She’s like after all my girl.”

“Take a seat, and I will go and get detective Dhlamini.”

 

Ngoni parked in front of his house then turned to face his wife. “Maybe I could drive you to Carol’s place. She was going to pick up the kids after school anyway.”

“I thought you didn’t have any lessons on Friday.” His wife asked looking out the window instead.

“I don’t. But there is something that I have to do at work. So how about it?”

“I spent a night at Harare Central because I’m a murder suspect and you want to dump me at your sister’s place at the first chance you get?” she shouted accusingly.

“How did you end up being a murder suspect in the first place?” He asked her getting angrily. “Did I have a part in it?”

“That is not even important. I saw a woman die yesterday!”

“Cynthia!” he screamed as she turned to face her. “You hired a lawyer we can barely afford, you went off on a quest that made you unavailable to your daughters all night, you somehow ended up as a murder suspect and you are angry at me? AT ME? From the way that I’m looking at this, I’m supposed to be the furious one!” He ended breathing heavily.

The two had been married for close to eight years and Cynthia knew when her husband was about to really blow up. Without having said something further, she opened the car door then went out. She opened the gate then disappeared behind it without even turning to say goodbye.

Ngoni breathed in and out until he was feeling dizzy. He covered his eyes with both his hands then tried to relax. After a couple of minutes, he drove toward the city center to Hart Secondary school.

He arrived at school a little before lunch. We went to the Upper Six Arts class and found his two favorite students locked up in an argument, as usual. He walked up to them then banged the desk that was in between them. They stopped arguing, looked at him as per usual greeted him at the same time as they took to their chairs.

“Do either of you have any plans after school?”

“No.” Answered Celeste May, a bi-racial girl who was considered the smartest female to ever grace Hart high school.

“Why?” Danai Chaurukwa, the head boy and second smartest student, at the school, asked.

“I want you to help me with a little something. If you are willing.” He said as he took out first two pairs of black leather gloves then handed them to both students who looked back at him with curiosity and suspicion. He then took out a letter, still in its evidence plastic, then gently placed it on the table before his students.

They scanned through it then looked back at him.

“My wife received this three nights ago. It lead to a dead body. As of now, my wife is a suspect in that investigation. I know most husbands believe their wives are not capable of murder, even if they are. But I know my wife and I know she doesn’t have the heart to end a life. I however think that all the answers we need are in this letter.”

“So, what do you want us to do?” Danai asked as he tried on the gloves.

“You are the best literature students I have ever known.”

“So you want us to critic the letter and prove your wife’s innocence?”

“At the moment no. But if another suspect doesn’t materialize soon, I’m afraid the police are going to come back and hunt down my wife. She refused to talk to them, and she even hired herself a lawyer. Rookie mistake, and I believe that might bite her in the-back somewhere in the future.”

“I guess we can take a look at this.” Danai said as he took out the letter from the plastic. “How much time do we have with the text?”

“Until Sunday. I want to run this by you first, but would you mind if I ask the headmaster to let you off school now? We need a quiet place to closely examine this.”

“I wouldn’t say no to that.” Celeste answered as she picked up her gloves.

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